Martial “Styling”

Robin, one of our good friends from japan, was visiting us and gave me a copy of his interview that was published in an Australian magazine.  He spoke about a lot of interesting things there.  But one of the things that he elaborated on was the eternal question that most people training martial arts keep asking: Is this art better than mine?  Will this work in a real scenario?

The way people approach a new martial art most of the time is to challenge a practitioner and need him/her to defeat their “style”.  This is counter intuitive as there are many factors that come into the win/lose outcome of any fight and this does not necessarily reflect the proficiency or effectiveness of any style of fighting.  Why would you want to have someone defeat you using their style to accept that their style is “superior”?  Even if you were defeated, what have you achieved?  There will never be a clear conclusion in reality as to why you lost.

Maybe an approach that says “If I can use this style effectively in a situation on my own then this style is good for me”? is a better one.  There are multiple ideas in taking this approach.  First you will be the one judging the effectiveness of the style and you will be doing so from the inside, as one who knows something about the style.  You will be able to evaluate correctly what works and what does not.  You will be able to see if the style itself is good for you, understanding that the effectiveness of the style is completely dependent on the person applying it at any point in time.

What makes a warrior is not his style or technique but his heart and spirit which decide how he approaches any situation or circumstance that comes his way.  If you approach everything with the eyes of a child, pure in intent and curious about the nature of things, If you examine with no pre-conceptions and thus no limitations on how you can understand what you perceive, you may be on the path to mastery in your own right.  The whole idea of “style” of fighting is thus very limiting, as you are already limiting yourself to a set behavior and a set notion of what a fight should look like.  In reality maybe a good fight should look like nothing, or in other words a fight should never happen if you can look at it from the outside and never be trapped by it.

The search for me

Change is the only constant in the world it is said.  Change is probably a measure of time.  How would you measure time if not for change.  The smallest unit of time measurable is only dependent on the fastest changes we can observe.  Everything changes, the world and the people in it.  I see this change, everyday and every time i look around, wondering; is it me or is it the world that is changing.  Sometimes i feel there is a certain pull, towards a certain change for me or for the world.  I cannot explain what is to change, but there is a certain energy flowing in a certain direction, a subtle force, like gravity.  We take gravity for granted and never really are conscious of it.  There also seems to be a choice of going with it or against it, just as you could use gravity to ground yourself or jump up to defy it.  (The defiance of course is short-lived :), superman notwithstanding ).

I think it is this illusion of choice that makes it difficult to go with the change.  I keep fighting it, trying to make sense of the changes happening around, trying to understand where the undercurrent is heading, trying to control my destiny.  The flow of changes it seems has a destination, which i cannot see and hence am unable to accept.  Fear, it seems is the driving force that provides the resistance to the flow of changes.

Sometimes I wonder, who I am or what I am or where I am in life just to get my head cleared about what to do next.  Everything seems to be going in a nebulous galactic spiral; it is too difficult to see where it is all heading.  There are things i feel i need to do, but somehow it eludes me as to when the right time or what the right way to do it is.  There seems to be an eternal search for clarity, for an identity…  something that distinguishes me or what i do from all the other people who have inspired me and who i try to copy.

In understanding that i am the sum total of all my experiences and that my experiences are from my interactions with other people, it would mean that there is a part of everyone of those people in me in some way.  Maybe the total is the distinguishing factor, not any particular trait that i possess.

The five elements

We’ve heard of the five elements in many a context.  Different cultures/belief systems interpret differently not only the significance of the five elements but also which very elements constitute the five.

Recently I came across a new definition of the five in the context of my own religion, Jainism. The five in this case were:

  1. Vaasthu:  This different from the normally referred element of “Earth”.  My interpretation of this is “Geography” instead of just “Geo”.  It has to do with the state of the earth/environment than just the bare earth.  Understanding that the people who were putting forth this definition were farmers, it seems that the vaasthu would refer to the suitability of the land for what ever purpose you have in mind.  It is nothing good or bad but just a state.  The state of the land that exists.
  2. Vayu:  The wind as is generally conjectured but it would seem more like the breeze that carries the pollen, blows the soil around and is generally part of the vaasthu.
  3. Megha:  The water here is not directly connected to the earth like the normal images of flowing water that come to mind when we think of this element.  For people who are growing something, it is the cloud that bears the water that is representative of the water.  This is more connected to Vayu than to Vaasthu but is still part of the Vaasthu.
  4. Agni:  Fire is universal in what it brings to mind.  It is the life giving heat from any source, solar or other.
  5. Naaga:  This word means “Snake” and it was intriguing to see how this fits into the place of the fifth elements.  Also the fifth element is the one that is different in every definition, sometimes time, sometimes space and sometimes something more abstract.  Here in the context that was being explored, the word was referring to life.  Life comes from earth and the snakes being the sub terrestrial beings are the ones that signify this.  Also the explanation continued, the elemental form of life, the tadpole, the sperm, etc all have the form of a snake, a head and a tail; becoming “Jeevanu”, the particle or elemental form of life.  The other 4 elements are necessary for life to thrive but life itself is created by other life.  It sounds like energy if you think about it.  Energy can neither be created, nor destroyed but it can be transformed.  So can life, in its cycle of coming into being from a single celled form to a multi-cellular creature which is then again relinquished to the elements that sustained it to be assimilated by other life.  The circle would then be complete.